Application offers family members with healthful food

The Locker Challenge was at South Portland Schools food distribution internet sites by the summer, supplying households with groceries. Courtesy image Kathryn Sargent

SOUTH PORTLAND — The Locker Project and the South Portland School Division have benefitted from a partnership alongside one another, helping students and family members continue to have balanced foodstuff all calendar year.

Primarily serving South Portland, Portland and Westbrook, the nonprofit Locker Project provides fresh foodstuff, healthier staples to schools, reported the organization’s web page.

Commencing in 2015, the Locker Job opened a faculty pantry at Kaler Elementary, then expanding to Brown, Memorial, Skillin and South Portland Substantial School in 2016, Little and Mahoney in 2019 and Dyer in the slide of 2020, Kathryn Sargent, executive director, said.

Ordinarily, the application stocks university pantries with balanced staples, Sargent reported.

“That was the foundation for the primary software, and we also ended up doing refreshing food items events in which we rescue generally create from diverse supermarkets. We would have a regularly scheduled time that we’d go to a school and lay it all on a desk,” she claimed. “The young ones would all arrive by means of and pack baggage right before the close of the day to get residence. Neither of people issues had been probable after all those universities shut. Even when they reopened, no just one could access the pantries at educational facilities.”

When educational institutions closed in March, the district started offering college meals at various internet sites all through South Portland, and the Locker Task partnered with meals service staff members to distribute groceries, Sargent reported.

“We had been bagging up foodstuff and distributing it that way, so folks would arrive to get school foods and they would be ready to get our luggage of groceries as well,” she claimed. “That bag system has progressed. We ongoing accomplishing it by way of the summer time at the college meal web sites, and when educational facilities reopened, we adjusted it a minimal little bit to individual develop from staples for the reason that develop baggage need a tiny far more attention. If they are held overnight, they need to have to be refrigerated and so forth.”

Now the Locker Job distributes inexperienced bags with generate and purple baggage with staples to each and every school, the Redbank meal web-site and the Brickhill site, Sargent said.

The South Portland College Section has supported the method as perfectly, securing funding for South Portland programing coordinator Courtney Bowers, who commenced in September, Sargent mentioned. Bowers functions with employees and social staff to be certain that pupils and families are getting obtain to meals.

Gretchen McCloy, the university department’s director of group partnerships, has been a sturdy supporter of the Locker Job, Sargent claimed.

“So they’ve completed a ton in terms of speaking with faculty staff and building absolutely sure dad and mom know the useful resource is accessible,” she explained. “They’ve provided us with economic support, so they secured funding for Courtney’s placement for this yr, which is tremendous helpful. There have been tiny grants that they’ve gotten for particular educational institutions or specific projects, so they’ve been genuinely invested in it and dedicated to making absolutely sure that children have the food items they require and the people as properly.”

The Locker Task also gives treats for learners to take in during the working day, Sargent mentioned.

Leah Siviski, an English trainer at South Portland Substantial Faculty, mentioned that the snacks assist “level the playing field.”

“At the starting of the 12 months, through snack break, some young ones had snacks, some did not,” she reported. “Once I begun getting snacks from the Locker Challenge, I just went close to with a basket of treats, and just about each and every university student took some thing. It’s crucial to me that all young children have the power they have to have in buy to target at college. Treats from the Locker Task aid with that. I’m so appreciative of the get the job done that they do for our group.”

Because the pandemic began, the will need has elevated, Sargent reported. By changing the product, the Locker Challenge has been able to raise the amount of foodstuff.

Exploration exhibits that when kids are hungry, they have a tougher time paying out consideration, Bowers stated.

“Food insecurity also goes along with elevated illness and poor attendance,” she said. “So for all the things little ones need to have to be prosperous in educational facilities, foods is vital, and having adequate diet is seriously, truly significant. The fact that we can make much more healthy food items obtainable to these kids and it’s a responsible supply and it also aids to feed their people, it is just improved for the local community as a total, to have young ones and their people be solid and capable to discover.”

For team, it’s significant to know that learners are finding the nourishment they will need, said South Portland Significant University Assistant Principal Kim Bennett, who thanked the Locker Project.

“During a pandemic academics and faculty employees are working to juggle more moving pieces than ever before,” she explained. “Teachers get the job done to fulfill the needs of their college students, together with earning guaranteed children are not hungry. By furnishing snacks the Locker Venture is not only aiding our college students — knowing there are treats out there for our pupils helps our lecturers know the requirements of their college students are becoming fulfilled.”

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